Improving Microsoft Adoption

Insights On Getting Users On Board Faster and More Sustainably

Which SharePoint User Training Approach Works Best?

Posted by Alex Brown on Apr 21, 2017 9:53:53 AM

If your organization depends on SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016, or SharePoint Online, user training is baked into your SharePoint user adoption (and retention) strategy. So. what has been your company's approach? Has it been effective at getting users to use, and actually enjoy, SharePoint?

Companies may choose to train and support their users with:

  • Classroom training
  • Internet searches
  • Existing Microsoft help
  • IT help desk
  • Internal help documentation
  • Peer-to-peer/manager support
  • VisualSP Help System

Each of these options has its advantages and drawbacks. But when you look closer, not all approaches get the results expected.

SharePoint Training in Traditional Classroom Settings

Formal training may be provided for specific users or the entire workforce. Research shows that companies pay an average over $1,200 per employee for training and development. The percentage of that amount targeted for SharePoint training varies by organization, but each time a migration takes place, users need to update their skills.

The good

Formal training in a classroom setting keeps instruction organized and consistent. And training is typically presented by qualified, knowledgeable instructors.

The bad

Unfortunately, traditional training doesn't often yield the best results because memory retention is an issue. Up to 70% of training content is typically lost within 24-48 hours. So, when users return to their desks, they have already forgotten most of the training they've received.

SharePoint User-driven Training Via Internet

Many organizations, especially small businesses, rely on their users getting training and support by self-directed web searches. In some cases, companies may provide a resource guide for finding help online.

The good

This approach is inexpensive and easy to set up.

The bad

Leaving users to search for SharePoint help without restriction can be risky. Instruction may be inconsistent and web searches can waste time when the best guidance is not found immediately. This can be costly in the long run.

SharePoint Training Using Internal Help Documents

It may make sense to create internal help files and share them through the SharePoint environment.

The good

This approach can provide consistent instruction at a moderate cost. Peers who develop help documentation may be closer to user needs, allowing them to focus on the most important task guidance.

The bad

Companies may end up with more or less training and support content than they need. Using company resources to create help pages can be wasteful if some users aren't fully supported. Also, help documentation will need to be modified when migrating to a new version or following a SharePoint update.

Peer-to-peer SharePoint Training

In some cases, organizations will provide an official peer resource to respond to SharePoint user inquiries. In more informal settings, peers reach out to each other for task guidance and performance support.

The good

Peer-to-peer training is relatively simple to set up and costs little to implement. SharePoint advocates make willing instructors.

The bad

As with user training via the Internet, a peer-to-peer approach may be easy to implement, but it can lead to inconsistent guidance when there are multiple people providing support. Additionally, this approach can reduce productivity because two workers are involved. This non-productive time can increase exponentially if your company is large.  

Microsoft SharePoint Help

Any rollout of SharePoint will include native help functionality. The '?' button provides access to a searchable library of help topics. Although it's always available from everywhere inside SharePoint, the help feature has drawbacks.

The good

It's there as part of the SharePoint environment. The help library is robust, providing details on nearly every task. Also, the help functionality comes included in your subscription.

The bad

The Microsoft searchable help library is vast, and may not return exactly the response a user requires in a moment of need. Searching the library takes the user away from the task at hand, requiring time to filter responses to find the best answer. This approach reduces efficiency and doesn't help with user retention.

IT Support for SharePoint Users

Some enterprises commit IT resources, usually through a help desk, to support users during onboarding periods. This occurs most often in larger organizations with teams that can absorb the responsibility.

The good

IT staff can provide a consistent level of guidance, and are familiar with most aspects of SharePoint.

The bad

Providing IT support for end users can be costly, especially in larger organizations. Team members may be pulled away from important projects to support users. Companies have to ensure the IT team has all the knowledge required to assist users quickly. Also, the guidance provided may soon be forgotten, as in classroom training. There may be little ongoing performance support provided when IT is involved.

VisualSP Help System for SharePoint

Training and performance support can be provided through help content that is delivered in the user workspace, without having to leave the screen. Content is provided via walkthroughs, tip sheets, annotated screenshots, video clips, and other multimedia options.

The good

The Help System is easy to set up, and provides customization and user analytics. Users are provided just the right information for the task at hand – in bite-sized, "microtraining" artifacts – without searching through help libraries. Self-directed training allows users to manage their moments of need, and return to the same help content as often as they need to become proficient in SharePoint. There are no other training and support mechanisms necessary. Also,  you don't have to update the Help System when SharePoint is updated. VisualSP takes care of that for you!

What's even better is there are two Help System versions that are available with no commitment, no cost. The Training for Office 365 and Help System for SharePoint Site Collections are both offered free of charge.

The bad

Administrators must install the on-premises system at the farm or site collections level, while the online version will need to be installed via a browser extension.

Which Training Approach Makes the Most Sense?  

24x7 Learning tells us that 67% of organizations "believe that small snippets of information are easy to retain and make for more interesting learning." Well, that is just what the VisualSP Help System was designed to provide!

Micro-training is proving to be an effective mode for learning, primarily because it allows users to learn exactly what they need at the time they need it. Even better is when that micro-training is provided in the work context, in the SharePoint workspace.

To learn more about micro-training and its impact on enterprise users, read more and scroll to the bottom of the page to download our free whitepaper, Micro-training In Context: The Path to Faster Technology Adoption.

Topics: SharePoint 2010 End User Training, SharePoint 2013 End User Training, SharePoint 2016 End User Training

Subscribe to SharePoint Articles by Email

SharePoint Education and Support

VisualSP supports the SharePoint community by providing quality products and services to educate and inform SharePoint users.